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Officials set off thundering explosions Sunday to topple two cranes looming precariously over a partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans, but most of one crane appeared to be left dangling atop the ruined building while the other crashed down.
The explosions set off massive clouds of dust. After the dust cleared, part of one crane could be seen hanging over the building while the end of one of the cranes, which was partially obstructed by New Orleans’ landmark Saenger Theater, fell to the ground.
The cranes – one around 270 feet (82 meters) high, the other about 300 feet (91 meters) – weigh thousands of tons. They had been tilting dangerously, and officials had feared the towers would come down on their own, possibly smashing into nearby buildings or severely damaging underground gas and electric lines.
Experts, including engineers who worked on demolitions following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were called in to try to come up with a plan to clear the site and prevent further injury and damage before the cranes fell on their own.
Workers suspended in a small bucket attached small explosives to various locations on the two cranes, with the goal of causing a series of explosions that would weaken the cranes in key locations and cause them to collapse.
Officials expanded an evacuation zone in the leadup to the detonation, and in an even wider area, vehicles were prohibited and people were told to stay indoors until the demolition was complete.
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